Deciding On AYear of Service

It’s a busy time but once in a while your thoughts go to your graduation this Spring. The same question keeps coming up: What am I doing after graduation? Thinking of a “gap” year spent doing service?

So how do I decide?

Dream a little! In an ideal world, what would it look like if you were going to spend a year of service? Picture it in your head. Let all your senses imagine the sights, sounds and smells of the experience…

  • Where are you? Are you in the US or another country? Is it a rural setting or in a city?
  • How long do you have? Is this for a year or two or more?
  • What are you doing? Are you feeding in a soup kitchen? Are you helping build a school in a village? Are you teaching? Are you leading a youth retreat? Are you caring for homeless men? Remember that you don’t necessarily need to do work that exactly matches your academic background. Be open to different types of experiences.
  • How are you living? Are you in an intentional community of young adults? Are you living with a host family? Are you sharing space with other volunteers? With a community of sisters or brothers? Do you want to be more independent or do you want an experience of community? How important is this to you?
  • Faith-based or not? Do you want to be part of something that includes your faith and challenges you to discover Christ in your experience of service? Do you want it to be faith-based but keep your spirituality more private? Is being faith-based not a priority for you?

OK year or a WOW year?

One of the temptations you might face is to try and create an experience that fits your desires too perfectly. This might give you an OK year of service. But what if you could have a year that really challenged you to grow personally, in your faith and in your compassion for others… a year that says WOW! Jack was a volunteer in Central New York. He was pre-Med but worked in a home for disabled adults. Much of his time was given to personal care for the men of the center. It was very hard, personal intimate care. But can you imagine how this service changed Jack? No matter how famous a doctor he may become; he will never look down at even the most broken of human beings. There is no task that will be beneath him. He’s been there, done that! Can you imagine what a compassionate, caring physician he will be? WOW. That’s the same kind of life-transforming experience YOU deserve too. Pick a program that will challenge you.

Next steps…

  • If you haven’t already visit the Catholic Volunteer Network website and begin refining your search based on the criteria we discussed above.
  • Talk to a campus minister, career services or service learning office, a faculty member, your parish priest, or someone whose opinion you trust.
  • Refine your selection and then take your options to your family and friends. Tell them the pros and cons of each. They will see in your eyes where you need to be!
  • Pray St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer for discernment:

Pray St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer for discernment: Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me, Lord, a correct faith, a certain hope, perfect charity, sense and knowledge so that I may do Your holy and true will. Amen.

Become a Volunteer!